As one of the very first to attend Oman Tourism College in its inaugural year, Mohamed graduated following 3 years of study achieving a Tourism Management Diploma. With high hopes for producing competitive tourism professionals and academics, OTC’s course curricula was deliberately heavy throughout its early years. Mohamed reported that this proved helpful in preparing him for the world of work and the application of knowledge during his career.
Mohamed’s first position was at Mark Tours in the rental and transportation department, followed by a number of moves across different divisions in the company. Whilst diversifying his skills in different areas, he found that those who want to lead must go ‘beyond the call of duty’. He advanced quickly within Mark Tours. After working as a Reservation Clerk, Mohamed was promoted to Supervisor and then Assistant Manager. He worked overtime and involved himself in as many areas as possible, until he earned his current title and a position.
Reflecting on his days at OTC Mohamed applauds the growth of the college, the development of its programmes, and its support for the nation. The growth of Tourism is now a major component of the national economy, with travel and tourism providing 75,0000 jobs across the local market in 2016 alone. Since then national initiatives such as Tanfeedh, in addition to other infrastructural projects, have bolstered that number in significant proportions.
Now 35 years old, Fahad Al Ghazali is a well-established operator in the field of aviation. Since leaving school he has enjoyed a variety of positions in Oman and beyond, focusing on hospitality and training with standards representative of the world’s leading airline and its premium brand, as well as Oman’s national carrier. After touch-down in the Emirates Fahad returned home as a member of cabin crew and joined Oman Air, where he soared through the ranks in service delivery before becoming a trainer, conducting hospitality audits before undertaking his present role in the airline’s service standards section.
Not long after OTC was established Fahad became aware of the national drive for tourism and the level of investment being made across the Sultanate. As an emerging industry preparing for ‘wheel’s-up’, the government’s call to action was somewhat inspirational and prompted Fahad to seek greater insight from the college as a unique educational entity. Following his consultation he went forth to enroll on a Higher Diploma course in Tourism and Hospitality Management, which he completed in 2005.
Fahad enjoyed a subtle sense of self-discovery during his placement at Muscat’s Intercontinental Hotel, a part of his course organized by OTC. As a advocate of experiential learning OTC ensures practical placements for its students, where Fahad reportedly learned every inch of the venue after getting a taste for each and every junior job across the operation; ranging from laundry to room service, catering and cleaning. Upon reflection, he noted the realization of a healthy work ethic and willingness to start from the bottom in his rise to the top.
Fahad’s work experience complemented his theoretical learning at OTC and the skills nurtured by his course, including personal skills, English language, social perspectives, communication, and critical thinking. Upon entering the world of work Fahad understood how his learning and personal growth at OTC was applicable in his employment as a customer service agent and hospitality professional for the travel and tourism industry.
Fahad graduated Oman Air’s Train the Trainer programme before being recognized by the company’s Chief Executive Officer for his performance. Capturing the attention of senior leadership, Fahad has taken the lead on important projects that have come to define the brand’s measure of hospitality, quite literally ‘writing the book’ on service standards for Oman Air.
“OTC is like a home, a place I belong to and I belong to OTC”
- Secured employment as a Tour Guide at Royal Opera House Muscat before graduating with assistance from Head of Internships & Placement
- Other internships include InterContinental Hotel and Chedi Muscat for college credit
- Active member of OTC’s volunteering & cultural exchange network, Noble Oman (Visited 4 countries: South Korea, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Philippines)
- President of Student Advisory Council
- Several initiative to improve student facilities – football pitch + canteen
- Organized Bee Keepers event to showcase honey on an international scale
- Featured on Oman TV 3x representing OTC
Virtual Tourism Activities
- Conducted webinar on the art of communication with audience from around the globe
- Cultural and entertainment trips to Ras Al Hadd, Wakan Village, Sidab and Jebel Akhdar
- Virtual tour for students from Cambridge showcasing Omani culture and traditions
- Presented motivational talk as Alumni to new students during induction period
A graduate of OTC’s vocational courses, Ibtisam Al Salmi’s professional skillset as a tour guide promotes Oman whilst abroad furthering her success as one of the Middle East’s first professional female sailors.
As one of few established female tour guides nationwide, Ibtisam enrolled for OTC to enrich her understanding of the industry and the skills involved on a two year professional development course. She undertook her training for the dual purpose of being able to grow professionally in tandem with Oman’s rapidly expanding tourism portfolio, as well as to enhance her communication with non-Arabic speakers on a global scale, during their visits to Oman and her participation in events abroad.
As part of her curriculum Ibtisam was connected with Oman Sail for the purposes of experiential learning, since which she has embraced a plethora of subsequent opportunities and gone forth to qualify as a sailing instructor, captain the women’s team, and represent Oman globally. Ibtisam enrolled at OTC with a conscious commitment to advance herself professionally with a firm focus on what she said were ‘outstanding opportunities’ for advancing her linguistic capabilities.
Amidst her activities as a student Ibtisam was tasked with managing student trips and guiding groups to raise her proficiency and contribute to the interactions she sought in advancing her language skills. She reported that this enabled her greatly as a sportsperson and a sailor of growing repute across Europe and the Middle East.
Now sailing for 7 years on single-handed boats Ibtisam is a recognized international competitor, most recently partaking in regattas held in France, Germany, Spain, and the United Kingdom, with the Sailing Arabia Tour posing a new challenge for the team in 2019. As Skipper of the crew Ibtisam is leading the team’s preparation for a major change, as they will participate in a new type of boat. She described the vessel as much faster with increased difficultly in terms of maneuverability; nevertheless she remains confident as she readies the Womens Team at Oman Sail.
Ibtisam is responsible for all aspects of the team, with duties that involve general management in logistics and communication, to the daunting focus of health and safety during races and practice sessions. She now aspires to further her success and reach the podium once again at various upcoming competitions, with additional endeavors committed to increasing the number of female sailors in Oman as the local sporting culture continues to grow.
COOKING WITH THE STARS OF OTC
Celebrating success in the culinary arena, OTC’s 2017 recipient of BSc in Tourism & Hospitality Management, Samira Al-Balushi co-hosts the popular cookery show called ‘Awafi’ on Oman TV alongside Amal Al-Siyabi who also completed culinary courses at the college under the umbrella of the Training & Professional Dept. unit. The hour long show aired daily during Ramadhan explores dishes from around the globe along with local delicacies nascent within the Sultanate.
Samira was exposed to the basics of culinary arts through practical courses at OTC that served as a catalyst in igniting her passion that was the start of her momentous journey. After graduation, she went on to work as a Restaurant Manager at the first traditional Omani cafe: Dukanah.
Commenting on her gastronomic journey…
“Early this year, when the network approached me to co-host the cooking show, I was shocked, humbled & excited at the same time! I am enormously grateful to OTC for their hands-on practical & theoretical education where I was able to hone my culinary skills while learning cooking basics. It is their expertise that has led me to host a cooking show on Oman TV. My advice to graduating students is to re-connect with your talent beyond classroom walls and never give up on your dreams!” –Chef Samira